I don’t know about you, but for those of us who are involved in or passionate about the visual and performing arts, the annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award Show, or the Oscars, is nearly as important as a New Years celebration. And, many of us treat is as such with parties, food, cocktails, and spending time with equally passionate friends. The Oscars is seen as the most important award show in the film industry; it nearly overshadows the press and attention the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and People’s Choice award receives, as well as others. If you’re looking for a monday morning quarterback replay of last night–who should and shouldn’t have won–this review is not for you. This review seeks to cover the show itself.
Prior to entering into the grand house at the Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theatre, ABC covers the telecast of the Red Carpet events. Robin Roberts was beautiful as always, and did an excellent job as both a television host and journalist covering the red carpet festivities. We certainly saw some fashion do’s and don’t. But we will save that debate for another time. It was an encouraging step in the direction of attracting younger viewers to the events, which last year had a median age of 51.4, by connecting to viewers by way of the Twittersphere. Over the last few years, the median age of the television audience keeps climbing. Uploading celebrities photos from the red carpet to Twitter engages a younger audience, which the Oscars needs to do to stay viable.
According to the “Hollywood Reporter,” As a television event, this year’s Oscars was more like an endurance test — turgid, badly directed, poorly produced and featuring an endless string of tired or wince-inducing moments from host Ellen DeGeneres. But, other than being too long, the show was entertaining, lighthearted, and included lots of quirky humor from Ellen DeGeneres, this year’s host. Playing it safe after Seth MacFarlane last year, the Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, went back to using a previous host. Ellen last hosted in 2007. Knowing that Ellen hosting would not pickup the younger audience the Oscars needs to pickup, the show writers desired to bring the show into the 21st century. And, they succeeded in doing this by involving the Twittersphere heavily. Although at times it felt more like a reoccurring Samsung ad, Ellen was able to take these otherwise untouchable people, and bring them closer to the people who make them famous–their fans. The selfies exploded on Twitter and I think that is what the Oscars needs to do to keep up with society. Appearing the audience multiple times, and even jumping up behind Leo, Ellen brought you as close to the celebrities as most people will ever get to be (aside from watching them in a movie). It makes the celebrities seem like real people–and that’s a good thing. The funniest and most bizarre event of the evening was the actual appearance of the pizza, after Ellen joked about pizza earlier in the show. That delivery guy will never forget this the rest of his life. Ellen was successful in bringing a true sense of off-the-cuff humor to the show.
What about those speeches? Now, this blog will not debate who has the best or worst speech, but there were definitely some speeches that were way too long, and others you wanted to hear from but couldn’t get a word in edge wise. The producers of the Oscars need to better define the length of speeches in each category. Other award shows limit the time a recipient has, and the Oscars should follow in suit.
The theme this year was a little incoherent at times, and was definitely something that could’ve been ditched to save time. The theme, of course, was heros. No, not American military, law enforcement, or first responders, but movie heros. Simply stated, there was no need to take up the award show with so many montages of movie heros. Without timing all the hero montages or speeches about heros, it stands that a significant of time could have been saved by just sticking to what the theme should be, which is honoring the best in film. Isn’t the whole reason the show exists reason and theme enough?
Finally, like with any award show, there are several performing artists that take the stage to, if for no other reason, than to break up the monotony of watching presenters and recipients. This year, each song nominated for “Best Original Song” was performed live by the artist who performed the song for the movie. Although “Let it Go” won the award, “Happy” was the better live performance at the Oscars. Pink’s performance during the tribute to the “Wizard of Oz” was outstanding and brought tears to the eyes of Judy Garland’s children. The highlight of the musical performances was Bette Midler’s “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” She did an excellent job! Like Streisand’s “The Way We Were” last year, Midler’s performance added a touch of class to the show during the memorandum segment. Another time saver, for the producers, would have been having Midler sing during the slide show like Pink did during the ‘Oz” segment. If you didn’t catch it, 2nd AC Sarah Jones did receive recognition for dying on set in a lower third following Hofman’s slide. Speaking of the placement of Philip Seymore Hoffman, due to the reason he died of a drug overdose, it would have been classier and more respectful to have ordered him in the middle and Shirley Temple-Black’s slide should have been the final one, since she was the original child star.
Over all, the Oscars was long but very much entertaining and enjoyable. Ellen successfully used her quirky humor and ability to connect with audiences to effectively make the Oscars the most enjoyable it’s been in years. Seeing Hollywood royalty like Kim Novak, Sydney Poitier, and Bette Midler. And, it was wonderful to see that Angela Lansbury was the recipient of one of this year’s honorary Oscars for her lifetime of achievement in entertainment. Congrats to all the nominees and winners!